The Triad is consistently filled with some of the best athletes across North Carolina, which rings especially true in regards to the historic amount of basketball talent over the years. While the number of noteworthy players is encouraging, the competitive balance is also a massive part of what makes this area so entertaining to follow. Just look at a few examples over the last few years: Ahmil Flowers (Grimsley), Quest Aldridge/Jakob Moore (Mount Tabor), Christian Hampton/Dean Reiber (Northwest Guilford), Kam/Kobe/Keyshaun Langley (Southwest Guilford), Nolan Hodge (Northern Guilford), Kadyn Dawkins (Eastern Guilford). These are only a select handful of names, as the list could extend to hundreds of others, but the point remains the same. Given somewhat of a recent dip in Triad talent, folks should be looking around for the next potential star to emerge. That wait could be short-lived, since Jaylen Cross already seems extremely likely to become a noteworthy name for Division I coaches to monitor.
So, is Jaylen Cross emerging as a top prospect in North Carolina’s Class of 2024? In short: yes. However, this notion needs to be widely accepted throughout the state—not just in small pockets from those paying close attention. Add in the fact that he’s developing under Coach Lee Reavis and the Northwest Guilford program, and there’s nothing preventing the young guard from becoming a legitimate force. He displayed advanced IQ and skills at an elementary age, and has only progressed since then. Last season, Cross made an immediate impact as a freshman for the Vikings and finished as their second-leading scorer while highlighting flashes of greatness on a nightly basis. It’s difficult to differentiate his strengths from his weaknesses because he’s already legitimately reliable in every facet of the game. Whether tasked with scoring, playmaking, defending, rebounding, or simply making hustle plays, Cross can and will do anything to bring success to his team. He also highlights terrific defensive prowess with the combination of quickness, craftiness, and natural instinct to truly dominate opponents. Cross is efficient from all levels, makes an impact in transition, and creates for himself and others with ease. Although he’s already a highly skilled athlete with intelligence and an all-around skillset, his intangibles should also be viewed as a major selling point.
Unlike most talented prospects, Cross separates himself from others with his abilities on and off the court. One would never know that the young, incredibly mature basketball player also doubles as someone far beyond his years. Cross’ humble, hungry mentality should allow the world to become his oyster. His impressive basketball abilities will definitely lead to a free education and possible career, but his identity as a person is what will make him special throughout life.